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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Computer Programs Make Drawings Truly Random

27 June 2007

It's difficult to resist being enticed by the myriad of promotions that casinos in the Chicago area schedule on a regular basis in an endeavor to successfully compete among one another for business.

New automobiles, vacation trips, even substantial cash prizes are usually the focus of promotional giveaways, but something they all have in common is the fact your chances of winning are dependent upon the luck of a random selection process that in some respects is no different than your chances of winning a slot jackpot.

Some promotions are targeted for specific dates and times. Still others are created to encourage frequent visits, fueled by a variation of the age-old marketing technique that "the more you play the more entries you earn".

In many cases, individual casino advertising campaigns are built around the drawings and sustained over an extended period of time, giving long "shelf life" to giveaways for luxury cars or large sums of cash.

The promotions are generally targeted for a single destination. In the case of Harrah's Entertainment, which has the luxury of a network of locations in gaming jurisdictions across the nation, they can be a sustained system-wide project over the course of several months.

At least two things promotions at casinos have in common are (1) a set of internal controls and procedures must be in place and (2) the campaign must be approved by the state gaming commission prior to being launched.

Once those hurdles are cleared, it's up to the individual property to take the baton and run with it while at the same time ensure and maintain the integrity of the promotion.

The same modern computer technology that governs the electronic gaming devices people play also rules over promotional drawings at casinos. The days of paper entries being stuffed into rotating drums are, for the most part, as antiquated as oranges, plums and bells on slot machines.

That's a good thing, because the true random nature of paper drawings always is compromised. Entries that find their way to remote corners of giant receptacles designed to accommodate large drawings are for all practical purposes out of the running.

So what happens to all of the "virtual entries" we earn for casino drawings, and just what is meant by the so-called "activation process" we're all accustomed to hearing?

Once a campaign receives regulatory approval, a computer program is created utilizing an in-house customer database.

Just as random number generation decides slot machine jackpots, similarly does it reign supreme over the fortunes of computer-based promotional drawings. The program recognizes player account numbers, not names, and dependent upon how many entries you have earned is how many times your account number appears.

The account numbers are circulated at lightning speed in much the same way reel configurations are cycled through a slot machine or a virtual deck of 52 cards is shuffled in a video poker program. Whatever number it's on when the command is given is the number that wins.

Computer-driven promotional drawings still are based on "the luck of the draw", but thanks to computer technology that process has never been more efficient or fair.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp